When was the last time you took a risk? For some of you, that question is easy to answer; because you take risks all the time! Maybe you enjoy sky-diving, riding roller-coasters, or other thrill-seeker adventures with a little danger involved. Or maybe you’re like me, and you like to play it safe. In general, I desire the comfort of the familiar because it makes me feel safe. So as you can imagine, I don’t take a lot of big risks. Although I did recently eat at a restaurant I had never been to before, so that pretty much meets my risk-taking quota for the year, right? Haha!

            The thing is, taking a risk is almost always uncomfortable because it requires us to step out of the familiar and into the unknown (cue the music from Frozen 2…). We usually can’t see the outcome when we take a risk, and that’s why the process can be scary and make us feel uneasy. And yet, after we’ve taken the risk and received a positive outcome we often breathe a sigh of relief and are glad we did it. Usually we end up building a little confidence and courage along the way, too. But man, getting to that point can be tough. Maybe one reason it can be so tough to “pull the trigger” and take a risk is because it requires an enormous amount of trust. I guess the term “leap of faith” would be appropriate here. Trading in the familiar for the unfamiliar may sound exciting to some, but it is especially terrifying to those of us who struggle with anxiety and crave the comfort and safety of what we know. I wonder if that’s how Jesus’ disciples felt.

            18 One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. 19 Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 20 And they left their nets at once and followed him. 21 A little farther up the shore he saw two other brothers, James and John, sitting in a boat with their father, Zebedee, repairing their nets. And he called them to come, too. 22 They immediately followed him, leaving the boat and their father behind. – Matthew 4:18-22

It says they immediately followed Him. Can you imagine? Jesus says to you “come, follow me” and you just drop everything and go…no packing a suitcase, no last dinner party with the friends or family you’ll leave behind, no 30-days’ notice to help you get your life in order before leaving home. You just go. Talk about taking a risk! These guys (Peter, Andrew, James, and John) left their livelihoods. They left their families, their homes, and their hometowns. They left it all behind in order to follow Jesus and be His disciples. I wonder if they were worried at all. I wonder if they thought about losing their job security, facing food scarcity, or how they would pay their electric bill (well, you get the point). I wonder if somewhere in the excitement and adrenaline rush of it all, there was a little uneasiness mixed in, too. Because this was a huge risk! Their lives would be changed from this point on. There was no turning back. And yet, they went for it. And I doubt they regretted it.

Like those disciples, we can choose to cling to the life we’ve created or to cling to our Creator. The former may feel safer, but the latter will take us farther. Jesus said this to His disciples in Matthew 16:24-25 (NLT):

24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

Jesus doesn’t call us to live comfortable lives. He calls us to live courageous ones. Following Jesus might mean you have to give up a few things: popularity, possessions, or pride. But for every loss you experience for following Jesus, there is a gain: the Kingdom of God grows, your faith strengthens, your character is transformed. So go ahead. Take the risk – follow Jesus. Go catch some fish.

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Central Christian Church | Mount Vernon, Illinois